Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine Graduates First Class


The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine got its first class Thursday, adding 18 new doctors to New Jersey’s declining physician pool.

While this is just a trickle, it promises to become a steady stream of young doctors needed to fill the growing New Jersey doctor. shortage.

Part of the reason the school, the Garden State’s first new private medical school in decades, was founded was to fill the gap, which is said to be several thousand doctors in the state.

“We are achieving our vision,” said Bonita Stanton, MD, founding dean of the school. “These 18 students have already contributed to the communities they serve, and their careers hold so much promise for our future. It is a proud day.

The 18 students, who began preparing for their degrees in 2018 at the school on the Clifton-Nutley border, have graduated in a three-year accelerated program. They were part of the inaugural class of 60 students, most of whom chose to stay for a fourth year.

Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine Inaugural Kick-off Drills on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Left to right) Helen Pozdniakova and Amir Elsamadisi celebrate their graduation at the end of the kick-off drills.

By next spring there should be as many as 90 new physicians, about 40 freshmen and maybe 50 from the second class, graduates and the school could potentially produce up to 150 a year, officials said.

All members of the 2021 class will begin their residency in the Hackensack Meridian Health Network in a variety of disciplines, including anesthesiology, internal medicine, psychiatry, pediatrics, emergency medicine and neurology, officials said. ‘school.

This is important in helping the state retain new doctors, as new doctors often stay in the communities where they train, officials said.

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A human approach

Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine inaugural launch exercises on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Haley Johnson at the balaclava ceremony.

In addition to remedying the shortage, the school administration decided to add a unique component, its course on the human dimension to its training.

From the moment they donned their white coats, pairs of college students were linked with families in neighboring communities – Hackensack, Garfield, Paterson, Passaic, Bloomfield, Clifton, Nutley, Union City and West New York – to come together. focus on four areas of health. : social, environmental, psychological and medical.

Some other schools have similar programs involving community outreach, but they are not “longitudinal – meaning our program expects student involvement in the community to persist throughout their medical training,” he said. Stanton said.

“They get to know their partners better in the community, the people and families they work with because they’re there for the ‘long haul’,” said Stanton. “It finds a way to show these doctors-in-training what ‘There is a whole new’ dimension ‘beyond the hospital and doctor’s office – and this is where much of the hard and rewarding work can be most critical. “

Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine inaugural launch exercises on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Anshu Kataria during balaclava and graduation.

Two of the school’s new alumni, George Zhou and Amir Elsamadisi, have been assigned to Angelina Canfora’s family work. They helped her quit smoking, avoid pain medication, and exercise.

Canfora, a Bloomfield resident, said they made all the difference in getting her life back on track.

“The boys were great,” Canfora said. “They taught me to handle things. I

more or less taught them to be caring doctors.

Another recent graduate, Candace Pallitto, who aspires to be a pediatrician and will be doing her residency at Hackensack University Medical Center, said the program also taught “the importance of treating the whole person and the ability to recognize the roles of social determinants of health. . “

Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine Inaugural Kick-off Exercises on Thursday, June 3, 2021. Candace Pallitto kisses Bonita Stanton, Dean of Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, during the balaclava ceremony.

This first class also meets another objective of the school: to create a new cadre of doctors who represent the communities they will serve.

Almost half of the class admitted in 2020 is female, and students speak 33 different languages. Half of the class identify as people of color and a quarter belong to groups classified as under-represented in medicine.

“This is the fulfillment of a dream of improving our healthcare system, from its very foundations,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health. “Leading progressive, positive change in medicine begins with training the professionals who treat patients. This school is now shaping a better future for our state – and beyond. “

Matt Fagan is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @fagan_nj

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